Andrew Wilkinson and Dianne Watts spar in the B.C. Liberals’ last leadership debate, Jan. 30, 2018. (Black Press files)

Dianne Watts spent most of B.C. Liberal leadership rivals

$1.14 million was more than winner Andrew Wilkinson’s budget

Former Surrey mayor and MP Dianne Watts raised and spent $1,147,907 in the recent B.C. Liberal leadership campaign, outspending her rivals as she finished a close second in the February vote.

Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson raised $734,156 in his successful bid for the leadership, the third highest total. He was outspent by Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee, who reported raising $675,919 and spending $987,206, the biggest budget after Watts, Elections B.C. spending disclosures show.

Wilkinson’s biggest donors were Vancouver philanthropist Darlene Poole and investment dealer Peter Brown, giving $25,000 each.

Watts led the contest on four of the five voting rounds announced at a downtown Vancouver hotel Feb. 4, before being overtaken by Wilkinson with second- and third-choice ballots in the final round. The party used a weighted vote system, with 100 points for each of B.C.’s 87 constituencies to balance the influence of more populated urban communities.

Lee, a rookie MLA elected last summer, finished a surprisingly strong third in the contest.

RELATED: Video, results of B.C. Liberal leadership vote

Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong was the fourth biggest spender at $622,790, $490,020 of it raised for the contest to replace former premier Christy Clark.

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, who dropped off after finishing fourth in the initial round of first-choice voting by party members, did not file his disclosure in time for the Elections B.C. report. Stone said there was a delay getting the audit done, so he paid $500 for a 30-day extension and it will be filed this week.

Stone said his fundraising and expenses will come in around $800,000.

Watts was heavily supported by corporate sponsors, reporting $832,800 from corporations and $314,000 from individuals. Her largest donors were Super Save Disposal and Woodbridge Properties, which gave $100,000 each.

Lee’s largest donor was himself, with $35,000 put to his own campaign. Vancouver businessman Peter Armstrong gave $25,000 to Lee’s team.

Wilkinson’s donations were roughly evenly split between corporations and individuals, with $327,958 from individuals and $320,950 from corporations and another $52,260 from unincorporated commercial sources.

De Jong’s donations show a similar split, with $263,630 from individuals and $201,680 from corporations.

Vancouver-False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan reported total funds raised of $131,006 and spending of $130,943. He was first off the ranked ballot when results were revealed from online voting.

Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier, who bowed out early after testing his leadership support, reported raising $68,291 from donors including Encana and the B.C. New Car Dealers Association, and spending $75,949.

Terrace resident Lucy Sager, who did not take part in the party’s leadership debate tour, reported raising $9,865 and spending $8,684.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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